What is the Government doing to preserve the Kiwi lifestyle by keeping New Zealanders fit and healthy?
The Government has invested $67 million over 4 years to give New Zealand’s young people and their families the tools to become active and healthy. The package includes the improvement of nutrition in schools and early childhood education services, school-based health promotion events, the creation of youth-focused websites to promote healthy eating and physical activity, the sponsorship of television and radio programmes that promote healthy choices, and Government departments leading by example in the promotion of healthy workplaces. The Labour-led Government is committed to giving young New Zealanders the best chance at a long and healthy future.
What other initiatives is the Government undertaking to encourage New Zealanders to be more active?
The Push Play Nation campaign runs throughout October, culminating in Push Play Day on 3 November. This includes a challenge to find New Zealand’s most active region. It will be, again, the occasion of challenges between parties and the media, in order to show who is more active. I think it is very important, because people around this building are like most New Zealanders, with more than 50 percent of us overweight or obese. Push Play Nation encourages everyone to incorporate regular physical activity into their daily routines, to prevent obesity from becoming an epidemic.
Does the Minister agree with a recent submitter to the Health Committee, Dr Miles Williams, that the best chance of giving young New Zealanders a long and healthy future is to reduce the overwhelming pressures on them to eat unhealthy food, by changes such as prohibiting the advertising, marketing, and sponsorship of energy-dense foods directed at children, particularly in the school setting and at sports events, if we are to be successful in averting the looming health crisis and in giving young New Zealanders a good chance for a healthy life?
The short answer is “No”. The reason I do not think that is the case is that I think all the informed evidence now is that taking a balanced approach is important. It is a matter of combining healthy, balanced eating—absolute bans have been shown not to work—and a good menu of physical activity, rather than being obsessed about one little area.